Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Noetic Effects of Grace: Pagan Wisdom

To further our discussion of education, I think it will be helpful to draw our attention to some of the Bible's own testimony concerning the "wisdom" of the pagans (some of what follows is gleaned from Dr. Johnson's article cited below).

As an adopted son of Pharoah's daughter, Moses served in the king's court and "was educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians" (a fact that, along with Jewish tradition, Stephen highlights with apparent approval, Acts 7:22). At the time of the exile, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah took the Chaldean names Belteshazzar, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, and were given by Yahweh "learning and skill in all [Babylonian] literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams" (Dan. 1:17). Finally, the fact that Solomon's wisdom is said to have "surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt" is intended to be impressive, which it obviously would not be if God's people alone were wise (I Kings 4:29-34).

To be sure, there is a stark antithesis in Scripture between the wisdom of this age and that of the age to come. But the sharpness of this antithesis seems most apparent when the spiritual concerns of God's second book, rather than the temporal concerns of his first one, are at issue.

Given these biblical accounts, together with the fact that all people still share the imago Dei even postlapsum, is it not at least conceivable that a child can learn his three Rs in a context that is consistent with the nature of those subjects, namely a common one? And further, is it not sufficient to insist upon a holy education when it comes to subjects that are themselves holy, namely, those contained in the Holy Bible?

(And please continue to be nice to "em," she is a member of my church. Failure to do so may result in my hunting you down and... well, you get the point).